Southern African Fight for Rhino (SAFFR) is an organisation based in South Africa, and has been very active, collectively in challenging the rising demand of all animal products, whether domestic or wild. On this basis, we would like to thank the Chinese government for reinstating the ban on lion, tiger and rhino parts in China.
We would further like to respectively state a few issues of concern, from our prospective, on the trade of wildlife products from our country South Africa, to China.
The demand of animals such as Pangolins, Lions and Tigers and many other iconic animals is unsustainable, due to the rising populations on the planet. It is plain to see, that we have far more humans than animals, the scales have tipped and for a very long time, animals have been forced onto smaller and smaller land areas whilst humans are being accommodated in more and more high-rise buildings across the world. Most major cities have already run out of space, and it is becoming more problematic to find acceptable solutions, as we run out of land.
Southern African Fight for Rhino accepts that billions of people eat meat from animals, however, there is a growing trend around the world to stop eating meat, and to rather eat vegetables, grain, rice, beans and lentils, due to the abject cruelty that most animals go through, to be able to satisfy humans desire to eat meat. These demands over time have extended into other dimensions of creating economies, such as traditional medicines and the utilisation of animal by-products in bone carving, and other centuries old unique items.
Who does not remember the Chinese Porcelain tea set being used, only on very special occasions, then cleaned very carefully, and put back to safety only to be brought out again for another rare special occasion? The perfection in the manufactured items from centuries of family owned businesses has always kept people intrigued and captivated. Ivory carvings have also kept people captivated for centuries, and indeed the term ‘Great White Hunter’ stems from hunters coming to Africa to hunt almost to extinction the iconic most revered elephant to satisfy the carving industry and medicinal industry of far away countries.
Most of us who grew up in Africa have grown up on tales, and history books outlaying this. Taught to us in schools and spoken of after the kills, in bar rooms all over Africa. The other most revered animal is the rhino, whether black or white, these animals were also almost hunted to extinction (three species have already gone forever) and South Africa, through the private land ownership and game farming facilities has managed to grow the rhino numbers from the brink of extinction to 22-24,000 white rhinos, and approximately 4.800 black rhinos.
Countries also used the rhino horn for ceremonial cups, dagger handles and again emphasis being on the most intricate carvings, making the rhino horn valued by many the world over. The family businesses that were involved in these industries have much to be proud of and should not feel humiliated at all because they have had to stop their traditional trade. In fact, SAFFR recognises that these people should be highly commended for taking the initiative to change century old traditions for something more in line with modern development, obviously recognising that wildlife is being killed to extinction and setting a wonderful example to other nations. Very commendable indeed.
Southern African Fight for Rhino, does not recognize the need for captive breeding facilities of iconic or endangered animals, or indeed of any animals. Nor do we support the trading of these animals, or for the resulting trade of body parts for certain alcoholic drinks or medicines.
South Africans were alerted to the cruel captive breeding of lions and tigers recently, and this has galvanised many people and organisations, both national and international, into action, to challenge the South Africa government to stop and ban this trade. The initiatives have reached the highest law-making entity in government, the SA Parliament, and for all intents and purposes, there is growing success in banning this trade outright, although it will take some time to come to agreements on both sides to this end, to be finalised. Currently we have +-300 facilities and more than 12.000 captive lions. After 20 years of legal breeding and commercializing of lions and lion parts, the Government is realizing that not only is the practice detrimental to wild lions numbers and has no conservation value, but it actually negatively affects the communities and their health, hugely impacts on the economy and on the tourism sector. In addition, the breeding of captive wildlife has been indicated as one of the most poorly regulated industries.
The illegal trade of wildlife is growing exponentially but the legal traders have found ways and loopholes to circumvent the laws of range states in Africa, blurring the lines between legal and illegal trade and it is very well documented as to how this is affecting the survival of the last remaining species of the planet. There are many species which are barely managing to survive, even under optimum conditions and China is the best example of this, as they battle to keep their flagship iconic species alive, the Panda.
Again one looks to China, because the Panda is so loved not only by the Chinese people, but by the whole world! Our story books, and animal tales growing up have included the beautiful precious Panda. What would our world be like without this most precious animal?
We also note that some wildlife species seem to do well in a farming environment, as do domesticated animals, and are considered a farming commodity, especially in South Africa. For many years, wildlife has been bred to be killed, not only for feathers and meat, but also as leather shoes, handbags, medicines, fur, jewellery and many other inanimate objects. Through this breeding some species have grown in numbers but have never grown in numbers to satisfy all the demands made on them. They are still confined in small numbers in pockets in the Southern African region, never reaching their full potential as wild animals, to roam freely on their continent. The practice has also been exposed for being one of the most immoral and cruel businesses, as documented by the National Council of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals South Africa.
- We do not have too many crocodiles for Africa as wild animals, let alone as objects/food for other countries.
- We do not have too many Ostriches for Africa as wild animals, let alone as objects/food for other countries.
- We do not have too many hippos, bears, lions, tigers, pangolins, elephants, birds, pandas, kangaroos, koalas, rhinos, snakes, turtles, tortoises, jackals, jaguars, civets, mongooses and hundreds of other species. Because as more and more humans are born, more and more food is needed to feed them, and so more and more land is taken away from the forests and the animals.
We respectfully recognise China as a leading investor for the growth of the African continent and world economy, and with this investment we implore the Chinese government to take into account the global trend towards eco-tourism and to recognise that if we do not begin treating our animals (both domesticated and wild) with more love and consider them as sentient beings, instead of commodities, we will lose what it is to know and understand life itself. Investing in South Africa, comes with the responsibility of ensuring that all citizens benefit from this investment, but not to the detriment of its wildlife.
South Africa is an internationally renowned destination country for millions of holiday makers, and this ensures that millions of its citizens are employed. The captive breeding of predators, and subsequent export of bone and body parts has tarnished the SA Brand, which will take many years to undo.
Other countries have begun to realise that it is impossible to continue doing things according to old traditions, as could be seen by the famous Chinese ivory carvers, to feed the world, and are launching laboratory made meat products already. Due to rising populations, and the apprehension over how to feed these populations, many governments should be investing in laboratory made meat products to ensure that economies continue to develop without the demand on animal products.
We will all win in the end. Humans and animals.
Respectfully we remain yours sincerely,